Thursday March 7th 2018

I’ve often said that the current generation of athletes in North America may not be at the level of competitivness as that of our foreign counterparts.  Some of it comes from the fact that in this litigation heavy society, kids seem to be more protected and as a result are not deemed suited to the rigours of some sports, most notably wrestling (it’s interesting that most parents don’t have as many issues with hockey or football).  Parents are more likely to point out the potential dangers rather than the potential benefits associated with our sport.  Granted, Canada is not noted for it’s wrestling prowess, but at the same time to be so far behind other countries of similar population size as an aggregate is somewhat alarming.  Some smaller countries in Europe (albeit with larger populations) produce better wrestlers than we do.  One could say that it’s probably due to the fact that we don’t have a strong wrestling culture in our country and that does have something to do with it.  However, I would also argue that we tend to shield our kids from all types of physicality that doesn’t have anything to do with hockey or football.  It’s thought that this is done because of the growing concern for things such as bullying, in that the argument is that larger kids may try to impose themselves physically on smaller ones.  If not done in an organized team sport, it’s believed that young athletes will start to equate size with power and therefore use that physical advantage to solve all their problems and efforts seem to be made to discourage this.  However, while I do think that there can be some legitamite conerns with this, we’ve gone overboard in its implementation.

What I basically mean by this, is while bullying is real, the way in we’ve dealt with the problem has taken out a lot of indpendance in the way in which kids handle it.  By completely intervening in bullying, we’ve taken the policing out of the hands of the kids themselves.  Let me be clear that while we shouldn’t be completely laissez-faire when it comes to letting kids regulate themselves, I do think that if kids can be given the tools to solve bullying on their own, this would go a long way to helping kids to be more autonomous.  This would better prepare them for more complex social interactions rather than just running to an adult any time there’s a problem.  Some studies point out that the lack of physical activity (most schools seem to be cutting down on physical education at this time) may be contributing to this lack of pent up aggression, which can be one of the causes of bullying.  That’s why I believe a bit of supervised roughhousing can be helpful.  However, some people point out that this may cause kids to associate agression with rough play.  In our hyper-protective society, anything that involves something physical is automatically shunned and stopped.  The idea of organized roughhousing is almost completely alien to our sensibilities.  And yet, some are making the case that this is the wrong approach and that kids do in fact need some physical outlet.

The Daily Shows take on rough play at recess

Some schools in our province have cited that maybe the lack of rough play leads to pent up aggression and as result, causes children to be more fidgety and more agressive.  This will obviously cause kids to be less focused in class and as a result, will lead to lower academic results.  This had led some schools to adopt a policy of allowing supervised rough play during recess time.  An article from Global News via the Canadian Press points out that children who engaged in rough play during recess as a whole are calmer during class time.  Now granted this was only done in two schools so the sample size is pretty low.  However, anecdotely it’s not hard to see why this would hold true on a larger scale.  Anyone who’s wrestled knows that after you’ve given it your all during a match at either a tournament or a practice, you barely have enough energy to be angry.  Your mind however is extremely focused as you run through the details of the previous bout.  The release after a match is done, is cathartic as all that pent-up tension is released and you feel at peace despite some of the turbulent emotions going through your mind.

If this study proves to be a success and rough-play is instituted in multiple public elementary schools, I would argue that this is a perfect opportunity to begin an initiative to put wrestling programs into our elementary school programs, much the same way that Ontario has.  Currently there are next to no programs offered in elementary schools in Quebec.  By implementing wrestling into elementary schools, this would definitely help to bolster our numbers and help to spread wrestling around the province.  The problem with our province as always, is the lack of qualified coaches to teach wrestling.  We therefore have to rely on clubs to provide the programs for kids.  Due to our limited amount of coaches, we don’t have that many clubs that have extensive kids programs as most clubs cater to athletes in the high school population.  The Patriotes de St-Cesaire are one of only one of five clubs in the province that have a recongnized kids programs that have produced wrestlers to continue on to higher levels.  CLIC, KSS, the Montreal YMHA and the Riverdale Wrestling Club are the other clubs involved in kids wrestling programs.

The Festival des Patriotes is one of the only tournaments completely deidcated to kids wrestling

This new emphasis on rough play and its benefits could definitely help wrestling in the province as our goal is as always is to see our numberss increase.  In addition to this, hopefully the stigma associated with wrestling will begin to dissipate and we begin to get some increased enrollment in our schools and clubs.  Hopefully, this will also lead to more people getting involved in coaching at the youth sector, which will also be beneficial to wrestling in the province.